Repair criteria for highway defects

Find out how soon repairs are made by Suffolk Highways to repair defects on our roads.

It's not possible for repairs to be carried out everywhere at the same time, meaning repairs have to be prioritised using a risk-based approach.

The busier a road or footway is in terms of traffic, the greater the chance of defect causing a problem. Therefore Suffolk Highways gives greater priority to the repair of roads that carry the most vehicles. 

Suffolk Highways' approach is to define repair timescales that can be met across the entire county, regardless of whether the work is in an urban or rural environment. The categories of work and response times have been developed by reviewing the location (severity) and size (likelihood) of the defect and shown in the table below. 

Repair categories and response times
Category of repairResponse time for work to start
Category 1 Within 2 hours
Category 2 Within 2 working days
Category 3 Within 5 working days
Category 4 Within 10 working days
Category 5 Within 20 working days
Category 6 Within 8/14 calendar weeks
Category 7 Potential future works
Category 8 Planned works

Categories 2 to 5 response times start at 12:01am the following working day to when the issue is assessed by Suffolk Highways and a decision made to order work.

You can find out more about the types of repair works we carry out by browsing the tabs below.

We rely on our safety inspections and reports from the public to inform us of damage to Suffolk roads.

Report a problem

You can report a problem quickly and easily by visiting our Report a highways issue webpage.

More information about how we provide highway maintenance is in our Highway Maintenance Operational Plan (PDF, 1,950KB) and details of the road classification Suffolk Highways has adopted are on our Categories of roads, footways and cycleways page on this website.

Reactive works (Categories 1 to 6)

Once a defect has been identified (either after it has been detected from an inspection or reported by the public - preferably using our Highway Reporting Tool) we'll assess it against our repair criteria and take appropriate action, such as raising an order for repair work to be carried out.  Sometimes we may determine that work is not required at that time but we will  monitor the location as part of our routine inspections.

Category 1 repairs

If the issue is potentially dangerous to life and limb (i.e. it is a Category 1 defect) work should commence within 2 hours of the repair being ordered - this can include making the location safe e.g. by erecting barriers, giving us time to order more permanent repairs.  We operate a 24/7 out of hours emergency service to deal with these defects

Category 2 to 5 repairs

Categories 2 to 5 response times start at 12:01am the following working day to when the issue is assessed by Suffolk Highways and a decision made to order work. This enables the time between the placing of the order and midnight to be used to plan the remedial work and enable the full working days to be available for completion of such works.

If a defect is found or reported and there are already works planned at the same location within a reasonable timescale, it's unlikely that new works will be scheduled to correct the defect beforehand.

However, if the defect is reported and there is future programmed work to be carried out, a repair (perhaps temporary) may have to be made if there is too great a time gap between the defect being reported and when the planned work is scheduled to take place.

Category 6 repairs

The timescale for Category 6 repairs is 14 weeks. This category is used where the highway remains in a safe condition but some work is required. This will be programmed to take place when we are in the area, potentially undertaking other work, to make best use of our resources.  We will ensure these works are completed within 14 weeks, or earlier where possible.

Potential future works (Category 7)

PotholeUnfortunately, there isn't enough funding to put right everything on the local highway network straight away - meaning some work just has to wait. This includes tackling what many people will consider to be potholes.

The potential works needed to rectify the defect shown in the yellow markings in the photograph (right) would not just be to just fill the hole, but to consider carrying out a patch repair for the hole and the surrounding area (which has actually been scarred by a vehicle fire). This would entail one visit and one repair treatment.

However the repair would need to form part of a wider order in the area for a road patching gang to make the actions economically sensible, meaning it may be a number of months before it's tackled.

Planned works (Category 8)

gully suckerThere are some activities that Suffolk Highways carry out on a regular or "cyclic maintenance" basis, such as cleaning out road gullies, cutting back overgrown grass verges and re-cutting drainage grips.

We also carry out annual programmes of road marking renewals, surface dressing, surface treatments, resurfacing, patching and slurry sealing of footways.

These types of programmes and cyclic maintenance are all forms of planned work - more information about these can be found on our Roadworks in Suffolk page.